In an exclusive interview with India Today TV, Prof. Bhushan Patwardhan insisted on the importance of holding exams for the final year colleges and university students, despite the spread of Covid-19 pandemic in the country.
UGC recently released their updated guidelines for the conduction of end-term examinations amid the coronavirus pandemic, in which it was made clear that it is compulsory for all higher educational institutes to conduct examinations for final year students.
The UGC vice president made it clear that it is absolutely imperative for universities to conduct exams for final year students and the college degree for their courses cannot be provided without exams.
The decision regarding the conduction of final year examinations was announced by the University Grants Commission (UGC) and the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) earlier this week and was not very well received by the students.
UGC guidelines clear about stance on final exams
Prof. Bhushan Patwardhan felt that after issuing the UGC guidelines on April 29, the situation regarding the conduction of examinations and the entire academic calendar was made very clear, and it was expected that the students will start preparing themselves.
“In an academic lifecycle, awarding degrees without examinations is not something we should encourage. That is what we (UGC) feel and we feel it very strongly,” he said.
He also added, “Whatever we could do we are doing and the guidelines give full freedom to the universities to conduct exams online, offline or whatever mechanism they decide on their own.”
Students’ trauma due to regular changing dates
While talking about the mental strain students are facing due to the constantly changing dates of their end term exams, the UGC VP said that the stance of UGC regarding the conduction of exams was made clear from the beginning.
“It is very unfortunate and I am really sorry that students have been left to this kind of a situation. But we are very clear right from the beginning and our stand is consistent,” he said.
“In academic life, we have to maintain academic credibility. This is a question of students’ future. We can’t make decisions based on instantaneous emotions,” he further added.
He also said that UGC hoped that the universities have prepared themselves for the conduction of final year examinations in the upcoming months.
“Universities had sufficient time to prepare”
As the decision of conducting final exams has received a lot of backlash from students due to the lack of proper resources and technology, Prof. Bhushan Patwardhan said that the decision of UGC gave universities ample amount of time to prepare themselves for the conduction of exams.
The initial UGC guidelines regarding the conduction of exams were released on April 29, where it was stated that the students belonging to intermediate semesters can be promoted to their higher semester but final year students will have to give their end term exams.
Prof. Bhushan Patwardhan said that the universities have had months to prepare themselves and arrangements could have been made very easily when it comes to the conduction of exams.
Spoiling careers by not conducting exams: UGC VP
“Can you imagine a doctor becoming a doctor without an exam, or an engineer becoming an engineer without one? This is just not permissible. In academics we can’t do this,” said Prof. Bhushan Patwardhan.
“If we decide that we will do it (exams) we will find a way. But if universities decide that they won’t, then the road is closed.”
“We teach students and we become the ones to tell them that they can pass and secure degrees without exams, then we will be giving a very very wrong message to the new generation. We will be actually spoiling their career,” he said.
He said that where there is a will, there is a way and not conducting exams for the final year students will not be good for the students of the country.
UGC guidelines mandatory for all universities
During the interview, the UGC Vice President made it clear that the UGC guidelines regarding the conduction of final year students are mandatory for all the universities.
While talking about the safety of students, he said, “Nobody can give a guarantee. The situation is changing so rapidly that we can’t say what will happen tomorrow. But when liquor shops and markets can be opened, the same questions are applicable.”
He also said that the September deadline is based on today’s situation. If things change by September, the commission will decide the fate of the end term examinations then.
“In times of corona, nothing is fixed and we have to be flexible. You must remember that postponement and cancellation of exams are two different things,” he further added.